Online tools focused on organisational governance work have grown dramatically in the last 5 years. This category is known as “board software or board portals”(the terms are interchangeable). Board Software enables board directors and key staff members to create agendas, take minutes, access digital governance documents, and attend to post meeting tasks for their board or committee meetings.
The dramatic growth in this category has been coupled with organisations running leaner and increasing productivity. They are understandably demanding more from their digital tools. The board software market has evolved from basic online repositories of board documents to governance management platforms that digitise routine governance processes, freeing board members from administration to focus on the organisation’s strategy.
The importance of delivering better information to leaders is impacting organisations in every industry. Still, many boards – particularly in the Not-for-Profit sector and Companies with under 100 staff – have not yet crossed over the digital threshold. They are stuck in time with error-prone, manual processes. These boards’ adherence to traditional communication methods such as post and email can increase risk as the fast pace of technological, economic, and political change requires leaders to be nimble.
The benefits of board portal software
Better Governance from improved efficiency
Boards that still rely on hard copies of meeting materials face obstacles. Last-minute edits to board documents before the meeting are common. Staff must then re-print the documents and resend the updates manually. Board packs can range from 50-500+ pages, and the time involved in reproducing paper copies means staff members need longer lead times to deliver board materials.
Board Software increases the efficiency of this process dramatically. Posting board materials in an online portal means board members and executives will have access to the most current information, the moment it’s published. Additionally, having a single place where directors go to access information reduces the confusion that can occur if multiple versions of the same file have been sent out. The more advanced Board Software providers enable organisations to create a library of governance documents for board member reference: e.g. committee charters, board policies, strategic plans, annual reports, and other documents board members regularly need.
Improved Board Communication and Collaboration
Board Software promotes better communication between board members, executives and other key stakeholders. They allow continuous updates to the agenda & board pack prior to its formal publication before the required number of days before the board meeting. Some Board Software providers have mobile apps that give directors a secure way to access files and annotate their board packs from iPads, Tablets and smartphones.
With increasing data breaches in the past few years, cyber risk now represents a greater source of enterprise risk for Not-for-Profits and businesses alike. Directors and Executives are in the crosshairs of hackers, who recognise these leaders rarely receive adequate cybersecurity training or oversight. Secure Board Software providers keep board documents and communication confidential. While not all vendors approach security the same way, some providers offer strong data encryption, secure redundant server locations, end-to-end encryption in transit, encryption of documents at rest, data recovery options, and security audits.